The San Francisco 49ers decision to place Joshua Garnett on injured reserve before the season appears to have been for more than just rehabbing his injury. General manager John Lynch had some interesting comments explaining the plan with Garnett to some extent. The idea is to take a longer-term approach and help him re-shape his body composition.
Lynch was specifically asked if Garnett was viewed as a foundational piece of the offensive line.
“We sure hope so. We took a long term view with Josh. It could have been something where we said 'Hey, we could've had him on the designated to return list' but we said hey let's give the guy an opportunity to really get this thing right. We felt like it would have been rushing it given the information we had and we said this guy is a first round pick. Not just a first round pick but somebody we've watched and could be a nice fit with what we do. And maybe, give on the short term value of having him back for a little more piece of mind knowing that we're going to give him every opportunity to really get himself right.
“So we made that decision, which was a hard one, but we certainly hope that he responds well, he's working his tail off, he's done a great job of really changing his body composition. We took a really holistic look, and I challenged everybody on our medical from our strength and conditioning to our functional performance guys to our nutrition. It's really changed this.
“And we challenged Josh. We said 'Hey, we want to do this and here's why and we also want you to use this opportunity to really improve yourself in every aspect. We're going to try to use it a a model for anybody in a situation like him. It’s working really well right now.”
When the 49ers hired Kyle Shanahan, some folks felt that Garnett would be out of place in the zone blocking scheme the team would employ. The 49ers mixed in zone-blocking under Chip Kelly, but they are making a significant change under Shanahan.
Lynch’s comments would suggest the team recognized this, but also sees a talented player worth working with to help him contribute next year. Given the way they have churned through players, they could easily just wait on his injury and then release or trade him as they have done with other players. Instead, they are looking to find a way to make sure he can be a contributor next year. That strikes me as a vote of confidence in Garnett for the time being.